commuter complaints

I haven't had a terribly difficult time making the transition from New York to Michigan. As a farm girl, I'm a little surprised that I haven't even been overly opposed to living in the city of Plymouth. However, there are certain aspects of the small city life that I don't particularly enjoy. Trains and traffic in general are right up there in my Top Things I Hate About City Life.

First, trains.
While I love the John Mayer song "Stop This Train," I do NOT love the trains in Plymouth. When I lived in western New York, trains were pretty cool because I rarely saw them. Occasionally, one would chug through little old Albion, stopping traffic for about 5 minutes, as small boys (and probably their fathers, too) watched in amazement. I even came to think of trains as an old-fashioned means of transport. No longer. Downtown Plymouth is, quite literally, surrounded by train tracks, which allow trains to invade our quaint city multiple times a day... and night. I can't even count how many nights I have been woken - just at the precipice of my REM cycle - by the incessant blare of a train horn. Really? We see you. I can understand a warning toot on the horn, but honestly - laying it on for 10 seconds straight? UNNECESSARY. In addition, some of these terrors have been known to hold up traffic for at least 13 minutes at a time! And that was only after I decided to watch the clock after I had been waiting for a bit. As if they don't know I'm in a hurry to IKEA? I've been here for almost 8 months - I don't think trains are something one grows accustomed to.

Second, traffic. I can't decide whether I hate driving around here more than I hate trains in the middle of the night - it's a close call. There are several factors that play into my frustration. While I love the 70 mph highways, I hate Michigan drivers. It's a bit annoying when I'm driving a comfortable 78 mph and multiple drivers are still riding my bum. I'd expect it if I was going 68, or even 70. But 78? Back off! To roughly borrow an idea from my dear friend Jeanette, someone had better be dilated 10 centimeters and pushing in that truck.

Outside the 70 mph highways, the highest speed limit near us is 50 mph, on a road I scarcely travel. Our city limit is 25 mph. Twenty-five. Because 30 would just be reckless.

Let's also discuss the state of the roads in metro-Detroit. Holy pot holes. Apparently these conditions are so treacherous because of the nasty winter weather and large allotment for truck weight. Whatever it is - it is sucking the life out of Michigan roads. People talk about craters on the moon - have they seen my route to work?! I'm starting to buy into the theory that dinosaurs went extinct because a meteor struck the earth, and that meteor landed right on Ann Arbor Trail.

I'm never alone on the road. There is always someone driving 5 mph under the limit or 15 mph over. I can never just drive leisurely at my preferred 5-8 over. There is no such thing as a "back road" in metro-Detroit. The closest thing we've got is Hines Drive, which is everyone's favorite route to and from work because there are so many fewer lights than every other road. I miss the roads of Barre and Kent and Lyndonville, etc. I expect rough roads in the country. I do not expect rough roads where the average income is greater than the sum of all incomes in Orleans County.

I've just decided to take all this as another sign from God that I'm meant to work at home. And by "work" I mean bake, read, and make ornaments.



Friday night was basically perfect.
After taking pictures in the park with Doug, we returned bottles, got some groceries, made taco salad for dinner, and then watched some epidsodes of Lost. This is how I watch:

And as a result:

I love weekends!


all in a day's work

Pet peeve at work: my mouse cord is perpetually stuck on “something.” Of course, rather than take 5.3 seconds to bend over my desk/table and figure it out, I prefer to scowl at my mouse, hoping it will magically unloose itself out of fear and guilt. Hasn’t happened yet.

Good thing at work: the vending machine has zero chocolate items in it. The vending gods know it’s Lent. What they don’t know is that I ate half a peppermint patty pie from Burker King yesterday before I realized, “Wow! This pie is completely coated in fudge, which definitely classifies as CHOCOLATE. Which I DID give up for Lent.”

Confusion at work: when I enter the women’s bathroom, and the toilet seat in my favorite stall is up. Yes, I have a favorite stall.

Thing I learned at work today: Banana peppers? Delicious!

Things I think at work: “I really wish I could work the word “subterfuge” into a sentence.," and, “I wish I could write half as well as Dooce.”

Perfect way to start the weekend: leave work an hour early because you can't stand being inside when it's that gorgeous outside and drive home in the sunshine to Sufjan's dulcet tones. Drive to local park and take pictures with your husband.


snapshots from the weekend

Dad & Mom & Jayne came to visit this weekend...

Jayne contemplates her next move.

Mom, doing some light reading.

Dad, doing some heavy reading...

Bookends making cookies.

It was a wonderful weekend. I can't wait to see the whole family in a month!
Love you guys.

birthday girl

Dear Lyndsay,

Even though you're currently in Panama, I still wanted to do a special birthday post just for you.

Who would have thought that a mere 3 weeks after I was born, I would get a cousin who would be my partner in crime for all my childhood years???

A lot of my favorite memories involve the two of us & our crazy, hyper moments.

Would anyone guess, looking at those pictures, that we were both almost 20 years old??

We've been through a lot together - from fights in Grandma's backyard, to playing MASH in my bed, to getting spanked because we wouldn't stop jumping on the bed, to Big Red gum in the back of the van, to drooling in the Racko box, to giggling about boys at Nationals...

... to giggling about Andy & Doug.
I've always felt so lucky to have so many beautiful, incredible girl cousins that I got along with so well (with the occasional scratching & fighting!) - and especially to have one so close in age that we experienced so much of life at virtually the same time.
I've been so blessed by your friendship over the years.

You've always been there for me...
...and I know you always will.
I love you, Lynz! Happy 23rd!


happy valentine's day

I know there are several of you out there who loathe and despise Valentine’s Day. My question to you is: why? A holiday that is about celebrating love, red & pink & purple together AND sugary sweets? What’s not to love?

I understand the opposition to the commercialism of Valentine’s Day, and I definitely don’t support the mindset that if your significant other doesn’t send you a dozen roses, take you out to dinner, and present you with some too-expensive piece of jewelry, something is terribly wrong with your relationship. However, I still enjoy the day.

I really get into decorating for holidays. Valentine’s Day I try to keep a little lower key, because things could quickly get out of hand. I decorated with a couple ornaments I made, a few cut out hearts, and some red candles. I also got some beautiful roses that drastically improved my centerpiece. Also, I may or may not have worn a pink sweater and tiny red earrings to work today.

When I was in elementary school, Mom would always help me make valentines to give to my classmates. I always thought this was particularly awesome, as it was time that Mom & I would just sit at the table talking and doing paper crafts. My favorite valentines were the ones we made using red heart doilies and clippings from seed catalogs. We would cut out pictures of various fruits and vegetables, paste them to the doilies and write the following inscriptions, as applicable to the fruit/veggie clipping:
“Lettuce be Valentines!”
“Do you carrot all for me?”
“You’re the apple of my eye.”
“Peas be mine.”
"My heart beets for you."

So “corny”… but we loved it!

Sadly, the corniness did not end with elementary school. Last year I made valentines with little cartoons on them, with equally cheesy inscriptions. Here’s a sample (re-created in paint)…

Sent to Paneks, in honor of my summer baling straw for them

Sent to Doug

I don’t remember who the lucky recipients of these 2 were, but they’re still awesome:

What can I say?
I’m all about celebrating love.


thoughts on a saturday afternoon

Signs that I am not truly an adult:
1. Yesterday morning I made Doug wake up early with me because I had a nightmare and didn't want to be awake in the dark by myself.
2. Our water fountain at work is currently broken and has a sign above it that reads "Temporarily Out of Order." This happens to be right between the two bathrooms, and everytime I walk by, I must use the utmost restraint to keep myself from putting the sign on the door of the men's bathroom. This, however, may also be considered a sign of maturity, as I haven't actually done it yet.

There's more where that came from.

At work I have to read documents about foster children and their families, and the information I read is sometimes pretty sad, sometimes quite depressing, but sometimes, downright weird. I'm probably not supposed to talk about the information to which I am privy, but in this case, I just can't resist. I was reading about a young boy who was exhibiting all types of negative behavior. It was documented that he had destroyed some of his toys, acted defiantly toward his foster parents, and "ate the blinds." What? Not he "was discovered chewing on the blinds," or he "was biting the blinds," but he "ATE the blinds." As in, masticated, swallowed and potentially digested? How is that even possible? I can't imagine that'd be good for one's dental records, digestive system... or home decor budget, for that matter.


drive slow, homie.

So I started my new job on Monday, and I didn't have to go in until 10:00am because I had to meet with HR to wrap up a few loose ends. The drive took just about 20 minutes. Tuesday morning I had to be there at 8:00am... and it took me about 45 minutes. A little ridiculous, if you ask me. SO, Doug & I got creative and figured out a much easier way for me to get to work. I started out this morning with my Google directions, very confident about the decision to avoid the freeways.

Here is the email I sent Doug upon arrival at work:
"The commute would have been considerably more fun, had Hines Dr. not been CLOSED after Middlebelt because of water over the road! Thankfully, I'm not as dumb as I sometimes act, and just hopped on Merriman until it met Warren, and just took Warren the rest of the way. I did have a panicky moment, when I was like, "Does Warren Rd turn into Warren Ave?!" But thankfully, you didn't delete the map on the directions like I always do, so I was comforted when I saw that yes, in fact, Warren Rd DOES turn into Warren Ave. Also, I almost rear ended someone... hard, because I was looking at the map, and didn't realize that someone was sitting at a green light, so I had to SLAM my brakes on. Like, to the point of tires squealing... if our tires were still in good enough shape to squeal, that is. They more... "squawked," I suppose.

Anyway, it is faster than waiting for 10 minutes on the on-ramp to 39. And less stressful... unless your face is almost in someone's trunk."

I did make it to work safely, despite the obstacles I had to overcome... and amazingly, it only took about 25 minutes.

I figured the drive home from work would be much better, because I already knew where the roads were closed, and I also wouldn't be worried about making it to work on time. So, I was feeling pretty confident and excited about a shorter drive home. Well, until about 3:00, when I started hearing some weird noises against the window. Which turned out to be hail. Around 4:00, it was sort of hailing and sort of snowing and sort of sleeting. Basically, it was just miserable outside. At 4:30, an administrator came upstairs and told us all to go home. I'm pretty sure the fastest I went on the way home was 30 mph. Soooo it ended up taking me 45 minutes to get home.

Maybe tomorrow I'll have a normal commute?


phat tuesday

We had a great weekend at Spring Hill camp with the youth group. Pretty awesome camp, with SO much to do - even in the winter! And definitely a beautiful setting...

our cabin - "Wolverine"

Some of the fun included: tubing, beating Doug in ping pong (thrice!), watching our crazy kids play other crazy kids in broomball, the Prayer Labyrinth, open mic night, leading a small group - and more! It was just a really fun weekend. The speaker, Andrea Kirksey, was fantastic. She talked a lot about social justice, which isn't something you usually hear at youth group retreats (from my limited experience, at least).
All in all, a great weekend!

Yesterday was my first day on the new job. I still feel slightly overwhelmed with all the information that has been thrown at me, but I'm sure it will make more sense as I progress. I really want to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who has been praying for me & encouraging me - it really means a lot to me to have such supportive family & friends. Thanks.

Today is fat Tuesday, so I've basically been binging on chocolate all day, as that's what I'm giving up for Lent. Actually... the only chocolate I've had today was a mini Snickers bar and a mini Reeses cup. It just feels like I've had more chocolate because I had a paczki (it's Polish... pronounced "poonchki") for the first time ever. Well... unless you count Boston cream donuts, which are essentially the same things, just with chocolate on the top. In which case... I've had more "paczkis" than I care to admit in my lifetime. Ha, what a funny word. Poonchki. I think that just might be someone's new pet name...

It's also Super Tuesday, so, dear friends & fam in NY - get out before 8pm and vote for anyone besides Hillary!